Go to Page | Index | Contents 234     | Biblio. | Page- | Page+

Federalist Wars: Second Phase

Other factors that may have caused Canales to decide against launching a full-scale attack upon Matamoros were the malfunctioning of his horoscope and his undue suspicion of treachery. Since he believed so strongly in divination, it was believed by some that he had had his horoscope cast, or had played a little game, as he often did before making major decisions. He would take a piece of paper, dividing it into four sections, upon which he painted a lion, an eagle, a sheep, and a dove, respectively, and then blindfolded he would prick the sheet of paper with a pin. "If the warlike bird or animal was pricked," reported Neal, "he argued favorably; if the lamb or dove, he argued otherwise."[130]  Canales was always suspicious and, as the Texans were beginning to learn, a coward. While encamped before Matamoros, a baker appeared in the Federalist camp with a wheelbarrow of bread for sale. Suspecting that the bread might he poisoned, Canales ordered the baker to eat three loaves before, he said, he would permit it to he sold in camp. The baker did not object to eating some bread to satisfy the test, but he did object to the quantity that he was ordered to eat. However, he was forced to comply with Canales' demand, and after he had eaten enough bread to kill an ordinary man, reported Neal, Canales refused "to let men purchase the bread, because he thought the poison was of a slow nature, and time would not allow him to make a fair test of it."[131]

Seeing that Canales intended to abandon the siege of Matamoros, the Texans offered to storm the city by themselves, but Canales rejected their offer.[132]  Suddenly on the 16th of December Canales stampeded, taking the road toward Monterey without launching an attack upon the city,[133]  although the authorities in Mexico City the next day received an express saying that Matamoros had fallen to the Fed-

130. "Information derived from Anson G. Neal, Laredo, May 30, 1847," in Lamar Papers, VI, 101-102.

131. Ibid.

132. Horgan, Great River, II, 563; Bancroft, History of Texas and the North Mexican States, II, 328.

133. Huson, "Iron Men," p. 98, quotes John Hughes of Atlanta, Georgia, who, he says, was a visitor at the American consulate in Matamoros at the time, to the effect that Canalizo was defeated. There was no battle. See D. W. Smith to John Forsyth, Matamoros, Dec. 24, 1839, in Consular Dispatches (U. S.), 1837-1839, (Matamoros), ms., microfilm; Agnes S. Menefee to John S. Menefee [of] Austin, Texas [dated:] Jan. 3, 1840, in John S. Menefee Papers, ms.

Go to Page | Index | Contents 234     | Biblio. | Page- | Page+

AFTER SAN JACINTO: The Texas-Mexican Frontier, 1836-1841
Joseph Milton Nance, 1963